Women’s rights seriously undermined in Poland.

By Josette Combes

The Polish Constitutional Court has given the go-ahead for a further tightening of the already very restrictive abortion law by invalidating an article allowing abortion in cases of serious foetal malformation. The president of the court, Julia Przylebska, said existing legislation allowing abortion of malformed foetuses was “incompatible” with the country’s constitution.

This decision is a priori final, even though it is already being challenged by the liberal opposition and women’s rights organisations in a country considered to be deeply rooted in Catholic tradition. It also provoked an immediate critical reaction from the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic. “Eliminating the grounds for almost all legal abortions in Poland is virtually tantamount to prohibiting them and violating human rights,” the Commissioner said in a statement. This decision “translates into clandestine or (performed) abortions abroad for those who can afford them and more suffering for others,” she insisted,” See Euronews article here (in French).

This information was picked up by most of the newspapers to report the facts that have been pushing not only women but also men on the streets incessantly in recent days in Poland. These peaceful demonstrations were disrupted by the intrusion of men wearing black hoods, which caused fear and panic among the demonstrators. We asked Monica, one of our members in Poland, for her hot reaction. We are giving you the short exchange we had with her and we will come back in the next bulletin on these serious violations of the rights enshrined in the European constitution and in general on the disintegration of the right to health which is spreading in many European countries and in the world.

Monika’s statement“Yes, indeed in Poland we are in a very unprecedent situation. Every day there are massive protest on the streets, I’ve never seen so many people on the streets! The Women Strike team sounds good in organising different working groups, but we will see in the next days what happens. Today should be the day of publication of the statement, but nothing has happened yet… It’s like just before a storm.”

A few days after our exchange with Monika, we learned with relief that the mobilization has set the power back. The amendment has been withdrawn.

Protesters gather in the capital Warsaw against the new abortion legislation on Friday © REUTERS